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Santa Barbara School District Resumes Outside Transfers, But Elementary Spots in Short Supply

Outside students will be allowed to transfer into the Santa Barbara Unified School District next year but it’s unlikely many will be admitted to the elementary schools.

The Board of Trustees approved a new interdistrict transfer policy that allows up to 100 students for the 2015-2016 school year, with no more than 50 seats allocated for elementary schools on a space-available basis.

District officials stopped accepting outside transfers several years ago for financial reasons, but have decided to open it up on a small scale.

Open Alternative School is granted up to 25 seats for out-of-district students under the new transfer policy because of its unique situation of being located outside elementary district boundaries. The K-8 school is located on the campus of La Colina Junior High School, 4025 Foothill Road, and nearby families can’t attend OAS without an interdistrict transfer, which makes it difficult to recruit students, according to parents and staff.

Even with the opportunity for interdistrict transfers, availability is always an unknown, said Mitch Torina, Santa Barbara Unified School District director of pupil services.

“We can project that students will move from one grade to another, and estimate from a variety of sources what kindergarten population might be coming in,” he said in an email to Noozhawk.

“But we cannot take into account families that move in or out, which home residence school they move in to, and therefore we are not able to know what will be available for next year. The impact has continued to be our own resident students being placed in their home school.”

The transfer application period for in-district and out-of-district students ends Feb. 17.

SBUSD receives state funding on a per-student basis as part of the Local Control Funding Formula now, but in the past has been funded by a basic-aid model in which all funding comes from local property taxes. Under that model, transfer students coming from outside district boundaries wouldn’t contribute any funding to the district.

The financial impact of interdistrict transfers will depend on where the students go, according to Meg Jette, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services.

“We are funded by grade span so that will make a difference,” she said in an email.

If the district added 100 students — which is very unlikely — it could mean an additional $700,000 in revenues for the district, but that is just an estimate, she said.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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